tv This Week in Northern California PBS December 24, 2010 7:30pm-8:00pm PST
closed captioning of this program is made possible by the firemen's fund foundation. from the depth of the great recession, to winning the world series, 2010 has been a year to remember. unemployment continued to devastate families and nunts, while californians struggled with massive budget shortfalls, election campaigns broke spending records. glass ceilings were broken, and a national health care plan was passed. tonight, "this week in northern california" looks back at 2010 and considers what the new year promises.
good evening, and welcome to "this week in northern california." i'm belva davis. joining me tonight on our news panel are sandy roy, editor with "new america media." rachel gordon, city hall reporter for the "san francisco chronicle" and josh richmond, legal and political affairs reporter for the "oakland tribune" and tom vacar consumer editor for kttv news. tom, did this year end better than it began or worse than expected? >> i think for a lot of people it's a toss-up, and i think for
the state it's been a toss-up. we started the year out at about 12.3% unemployment, we are at 12.4% unemployment. we had a slight dip in the middle of the year, but unemploymentwise that is the problem and that's the problem for california, jobs, jobs, jobs, because everything else is impacted by that whether it's taxes, housing values, everything else, so that i think was the biggest thing. and in the united states, you know, the same thing. we started out in the united states in the high nines. we are ending up in the united states in the high nines. so, not much improvement in jobs and the outlook for jobs. in california, the problem is particularly bad because we have the third highest unemployment behind michigan and nevada, and our problem is we've lost 600,000 construction jobs, something that we're not doing right now. on top of that, because the folks up in sacramento cannot figure this out or for some reason decide not to figure this out because of the ideologies that are involved, we've lost things that we've never lost
before, public employment especially at the local level, that has always been kind of bulletproof, health care which was always bulletproof, once again we're starting to see the loss of jobs, so all of that combined creates a very, very bad scenario for california that impacts literally everything else that we talk about. >> so, what was the golden -- were the silver lining here? >> well, we are seeing some rebounding, slight, but some rebounding in commercial real estate, especially in the sale of hotels. we're seeing very good deals on that. i've talked to a number of commercial real estate people who say they are starting to see more activity and expect to see that pick up. and, of course, if you can afford to buy a house, you've got really low financing. you've got really low prices, and that augers well if you want to do that, at the same time because so many people are not in that position, housing languishes, and a number of people have decided to keep leaving california, so we're actually having a net loss of population. >> tom, let me ask you something
about the construction jobs. that just jumped out at me. i thought we spent oodles of money from the stimulus bill from the federal government that was supposed to do precisely what, you know, put people to work in the construction trades. did that happen at all and it was a blip and they're gone, or is it still going through the works? >> imagine how much worse it would be if we weren't doing doyle drive and the bay bridge, and how much worse if we weren't doing the caldecot. >> it made a difference? >> it made a little bit of a difference. but the fact of the matter is the majority of construction was commercial real estate and especially housing and when that went away, not only those 600,000 jobs went away but the mortgage jobs went away and the banking jobs and the title insurance jobs, and until housing gets s itself back on track, the outlook is not good. >> wasn't it the administration's position it's bad, but it's not as bad had we not done anything? >> i think that's absolutely true. on the other hand, i'll tell you
this, i think we have much higher unemployment and i think we have much more difficulty going on and a lot more people relying on public services, you know, for food and things like that. this is the fourth recovery i have covered as a journalist, and i will tell you the other three combined -- combined -- don't give account for what we've seen, because at least in the rest of them, other parts of the world and the country were doing well. there's no hiding place here. china is certainly doing well, but china alone cannot carry the world and as well as it's doing, it's not doing so well that it overwhelms everything else, the world's largest economy, that of the united states, still is the linchpin for the world economy, and right plow we're junow we'r time. >> employment is a trailing indicator and there's growth in gdp, pretty robust corporate profits, you know, compared to past years, it's not as if this is -- you know, we're still circumstance ffle iling the dra. >> they surveyed california,
parents, and its said right now 26% of california households don't have enough income to meet the basic needs of their children, so you have corporate profits, but it's obviously when 26% of californians don't have basic needs for their children, that's pretty dire. >> here's the thing. the reality of the situation is, is that, yes, the stock market is high and that's because corporate profits are high. but what has that been on the backs of? with few exceptions, apple being a company that, you know, that's gone out of its way to create things and new jobs and all that stuff, but all of this is using fear of people or shipping jobs overseas. the fact of the matter is that unemployment remains the thing that along with housing that just keeps our economy from moving forward in any meaningful way. now, having said that, there are always signs of hope. but those signs of hope have to manifest themselves in jobs, and then what we will see is something good. but like the ports are up, okay? hotels are doing a little bit better. we're doing all kinds of things with selling high tech off the
shelves, but we're doing it on the backs of less and less people. >> are the people gone? >> a lot of people have gone to the unemployment line and they've used up in many cases now even their 99 weeks of employment which was just ratified by the president in signing the bill that keeps that alive and lowers taxes. >> ending up, what, in the home's hadless shelters, in the lines and moving in with families and friends? >> the higher stress in schools because of families doubled up at home and there's more bullying in schoolyards. >> met a guy from memphis down at fisherman's wharf, he said, man, this is a great town, but i've never seen so many homeless people. we are used to it, but people from other places are not. >> this week "the san francisco business times" had some special hope, stories with a silver lining in terms of some areas where there is growth, there is a little bit more investments, the angels who have accumulated all this money, so i guess there
are, along with the things that we have to continue to worry about. >> i think the overwhelming reality is that california has to understand, until we get our budget in order and we got to get that in order, we're going to have a long row to hoe here. >> okay. and the people that will hoe that row are in the group that josh is going to deal with, and that's what happened with politics this year. what have we seen? >> it's been a tremendous year in california politics, but i think the question is what do we have to show for it at the end, right? we had some of the most expensive campaigns in american history for some of our state offices and ballot measures. you know, we have a new governor coming in. we have a governor leaving office who has a very mixed legacy at best, you know, on one hand we've got -- we've got -- he managed to shepherd through and then protect climate change legislation and the california air resources board this month has just set cap-and-trade rules that will go into effect in 2012
to help combat global warming. on the other hand, we have a $28.1 billion budget deficit which incidentally is equal to the entire current budget of the state of pennsylvania, but programs we c progra perhaps we can invade. jerry brown comes into office with a tough row to hoe. it looks like he'll try the shock and awe approach where it makes it abundantly clear to people what a cuts-only budget over the next 18 months will look like. it will look like armageddon basically. and i think, you know, he'll be looking to try to use shock and awe californians into accepting some sort of revenue tax increases to balance it out. money did not carry the day in a lot of these elections. meg whitman being the prime example, but, remember, she beat somebody in the primary who spent many millions of dollars out of his own pocket, and there
was a very well-moneyed, excuse me, contender in the democrat a.g.'s race who came in third, and pg&e put a lot of money into its ballot measure and mercury insurance put a lot of money into its ballot measure, no good for them, so voters -- >> will it cause less money to be put into future elections? >> oh, no, because everybody is sure their money will go further than somebody else's money. this is one of the bubbles that i don't see bursting anytime soon. there's always plenty of money for the political sector. >> let me ask you on the budget package and the prediction that jerry brown has laid out, public education, it's going to be terrible and stuff. is he going to be able to say no to -- i don't want to say special interests and i don't want to be derogatory about that, but to the interests who want public employees unions to the teachers unions, will he be able to say no and will he have the backing of it, or will it be the same budget mess year after year after year? >> we don't know yet. we don't know yet. because he obviously was
supported by the public employee unions especially the teachers in his gubernatorial bid, and there are going to be cuts made under any scenario. there are going to be sacrifices dema demanded. some people think that californians won't wake up to a need for more revenue until they actually see the cuts taking effect, which means he's actually going to need to make the cuts. it will be a game of chicken, you know, who will blink first. >> any change on the republican stance on taxes, tax increases, that you can see, any crack in that wall? >> no sign that i can see whatsoever that california republicans are willing to embrace any kind of -- any kind of revenue increases. >> we had a hard analysis passage of proposition 26 to get local fees, you need a supermajority. >> the prop, the voters essentially said it's okay to pass a budget with a simple majority instead of -- instead of a two-thirds majority, although not taxes, just the
budget. and at the same time they make it -- they essentially reclassified things that used to be called fees or anything but taxes as taxes, which will require two-thirds votes. so, the box is getting smaller really as time goes by. >> let me ask you this. do we have to walk off the cliff? i mean, do we miss bond payments? is that's what's going to set this thing off? how bad does it have to get before we look at this and say regardless of what it takes, we have to fix it? >> tom, i don't even want to try to predict how bad things are going to get in 2011, because i fear it's going to be a very, very ugly scene in california. you know, it's -- it's not necessarily a pretty scene nationally, obviously, as we're seeing in your segment and there's a change of power in washington and we'll see how it plays out. >> i was going to ask you on the effect of the midterm elections on california's ability, we got some pretty generous grants through the last democratic congress. >> and the democrats being out
of power now in the house now especially here in the bay area will have some very distinct fiscal effects in what kind of money comes home for local projects. on the grand scale of things, you know, everybody thinks that the republicans taking over the house is the death knell of the obama presidency. i would beg to differ. i think presidents often thrive when they have somebody to rail against, and with the republican speaker, he's going to have exactly that so i -- >> is it the obama railing, josh? >> i think he may rail. i think there could be railing in the future, yeah. he's got somebody to be his counterpoint now basically, his opposite number, which he really didn't have, you know. it's hard to hold out your own party as the ones you can't quite convince of your agenda, but when it's the other guy, it's, like, hey, he's being obstructionist. >> it happened in terms of control in washington and then in sacramento and then it gets down to the people that, rachel,
you'll talk about. >> let's talk about the nice little transition from sacramento to san francisco, the statewide officeholders who won, gavin newsom will be the lieutenant governor. he's got to figure out what he does with that job. i think he'll have a staff of five. a big difference, though. talking to him about what he wants to do, i think he wants to kind of carry his environmental credentials with him. he's already talking about having electric car plug-in stations up and down the state at the rest stops. >> do you think the lieutenant governor can do it, rachel? >> it depends what the governor does. if jerry brown said, gavin newsom, if you want the environment to be your thing, have at it, have fun. and they have a pretty good relationship. >> that's the question. is gavin a protege? is gavin going to be the underling, the understudy to jerry brown? is jerry brown going to nurture him? >> i don't think it's protege. the question is jerry brown going to let gavin be gavin i think. they have common friends. dianne feinstein being the key
one, dianne feinstein married jerry and his wife, and dianne feinstein is the mentor to newsom and i think she wants to see them succeed. it got contentious when newsom was running for governor and pretty much calling jerry brown an oldman over the hill, he didn't like it, and gavin backed off, and he's lieutenant governor and you have to put the lt before his name. it will be an interesting thing to see how he remakes himself. real quickly, the other race with camilla harris who was the district attorney in san francisco is now going to be california's attorney general. she beat the district attorney steve cooley from los angeles. and she now is i think hands-down going to be a rising political star on the national scene. >> i was just going to say i had been doing a story about indian-american politicians across the country, it was a record year for them running for office, six running for congress, every operative in
washington, d.c., was interested in the camilla harris race, because that was the one they felt money was being poured into in order to defeat here, people saw her as the real rising hope of the democratic party. >> interesting. >> what about, rachel, the effect on the budget for this city of san francisco? with gavin being there to carry that message as the state has cut, cut, cut? >> we'll see. san francisco had a daunting deficit this year in 2010, more than $522 million it was. next year they're looking at about $380 million going into it, but they're expecting it to be a lot worse, because the state everyone is kind of going, let's ignore it now and see what we're going to do, but we're seeing tremendous amounts of cuts, not just in san francisco but across the local level. we've been seeing a lot more private/public partnerships, rec centers close, swimming pools, local workers as tom mentioned, being laid off, schools are being hit. it's a really hard time. can you bring the bacon home to san francisco?
i think it's hard. it will be hard for the public money, but newsom has made it in a point in the mayor's office to really kind of tap the philanthropists in the bay area and i think he'll try to stretch it to the state. >> one thing he won't do on time is leave his office which will effect who appoints camilla harris' successor who is the caretaker or the subsequent mayor which would affect the next mayoral race, pa whole domino aspect. >> and the amazing story is, ron dellums, he didn't win a second term, he didn't run again. but jean kwan came up as not the first choice, as don perata had that title there, but she was -- took full advantage of rank choice voting, being a lot of second and third choices. >> you have a don perata, but can you put me as your second
choice? >> she has a grassroots movement. oakland is a very, very hard city to govern, you can't be nice about it. you've got to be hard about it. jerry brown i think was a very strong mayor. he had a strong vision for what he wanted which was to have economic development, more housing in the downtown area and kwan's going to make public safety one of her top priorities. >> with kwan's victory in san leandro here, do you think rank choice, people understood that rank choice voting can upset elections and the next time around elections are going to be different? >> i think they do know. i was talking to malia cohen, who is in the southeastern neighborhoods, hunters point, where the shipyard development is going in, she said it was luck i won, it was a strategy just like jean kwan, she wanted to be people's second and third choices to get enough votes. >> it will be hard for don perata to go around and saying can i be your second choice?
>> isn't it arrogant? he knew what the system was. >> we'll see a big test next year in san francisco because the mayor's office for the first time in san francisco will be a rank choice election. i think that's going to throw a whole different equation into it. >> can we get to sports for a second? >> i want to get to sports, not only do i have to. we'll look at a couple things quickly. the 49ers stadium was a big topic in 2010. santa clara voters said we want it here and put it next to great america and the parking lot, san francisco still trying for it. the a's stadium, san jose beating up oakland, who will get the a's in san francisco as well, they don't want san jose to get the stadium down there because the south bay is really part of the giants. and speaking of the giants, may i? >> you may. >> we won the world series. first time -- >> we did? >> we did. >> news. >> the first time since the giants have moved west to san francisco they won, beat the rangers, it was a great moment economically for us, spiritually, every way you can look at it. >> we didn't get to the america's cup, but maybe that's
all right, too, but we got it past the supervisors here and it may come here. sandy, i want to ask, did the ethnic media follow the kinds of stories that we're talking about here? >> absolutely. they followed them and they had their own take on it. i mean with the elections i knew this was going to be a big elections when early on in the process, i read in the chinese media and the translation in the chinese media that the acupuncture association was backing jerry brown because when he was governor, he was interested in alternative medicine. the ethnic vote was what really got jerry brown into office. the latino vote tracked all the way through, i mean, to meg whitman's credit, the $100 million that she poured in, she advertised on univision and the spanish language radio station did narrow the gap, the poll in september found the gap when both of them were running neck and neck, they found the gap
shrunk to 3% between the two of them, before the housekeeper story emerged, but before that it was a 21% lead that brown had. after the housekeeper story emerged, and eventually he got a 30% lead. but definitely it was the ethnic vote that put brown. it was the brown vote that made california blue in a way. >> now, were the ethnic communities impacted by things like the high unemployment and like the housing foreclosure and were the stories front and center with them? >> they were. and i think they were huge stories, because especially african-americans and latinos were disproportionately, i mean, these are people who are often at the subsistence end of things anyway, and this was like a huge tsunami that went through these communities. and i was talking to people who said that with many latinos who were -- went through foreclosure because they were first-time home buyers who did not really know what they were buying and what they were signing into. for many african-americans, it
was a case of people who actually owned homes but who were sort of wheedled, coaxed, into taking out second mortgages and saying is you can get all this money from your home and then ended up in a bad situation. and i think we're still feeling the effects of that, you know, whether -- we sometimes don't see it as visibly with asian families, for example, you don't see that many homeless but because people are doubling up and tripling up families, they are tripling up at home and you don't see them on the street necessarily but you feel that effect in school where kids come back and they're stressed out because there are three families who are sharing the home with them. >> it seems to me that the word ethnic press, minority press, all of those, it seems to me it's almost a useless term anymore. it just seems that there's a diverse press, but that's about the most you can attribute to it. >> yes, that is. it's the term nobody can find a good term for it, and especially the green line institute came out with its numbers and
predictions and it said by 2040, 48% of californians will be latino, 13% will be asian american, so, then, the ethnic minority, all of the terms are going to become quite meaningless, it's going to be, we just sort of all have to be, it's the chicken, camisala, coleslaw, get used to it. >> can i ask you quickly about ethnic politics? jane kim in san francisco, korean-american, first korean-american elected to a large city council or bord of supervisors in the united states, south of market, she did a different kind of race where she went on language and ethnicities and very much pigeonholed the groups and had the field organizers out there very precise to each campaign. are we going to see more of that as well? >> i think people are going to have to do more of that in order to reach into these different communities and even, jean, you know, this has been the year of asian politicians rising, you
know, jean kwan being this great example. though it's worth remembering it was historic for chinese to have somebody like jean kwan as the mayor, but it was not chinese votes that made her mayor, it was the second-place votes for somebody like rebecca kaplan, but people are aware they will have to reach the different communities. >> it's a full year but i'm not going to let you get away without making the traditional closing-year predictions. starting you, tom, what do you see ahead? >> unemployment to 11% but falling, and housing continues to be hit, and finally pg&e will face strict new regulations and will be engaged in massive activities to restore its reputation which it very much needs to do. >> we got you on record. josh, what do you predict? >> i think jerry brown is ultimately going to succeed in convincing californians that there has to be some sort of revenue fix for the state budget.
i don't think californians are going to have the stomach for the alternative is that he'll show them. so, i would anticipate some select tax increases, not necessarily for the middle-class, but high earners and oil severance tax and things like that. >> rachel, what do you think? >> i think whoever gets the interim mayor's job in san francisco to fill out the last year of gavin newsom's job is going to wonder why they accepted the nomination. i think the budget will be really bad. they'll have to cut a lot of services. say no to a lot of people, and there's going to be a lot of people scrambling to be mayor for the four-year term after that, they'll have to watch over their shoulders. the giants will take it the second year in a row. >> you've got a really -- >> if this was the year of the ethnic voters, i think the rise of jean kwan, camilla harris, it means the ethnic politicians will be coming into the fore. and the chicken, tea, camisilla
burrito will be san francisco's city food. >> thank you for joining us tonight and especially for the great predictions. and we thank you for watching. visit us anytime at kqed.org and subscribe to our newsletter and podcasts and share your thoughts about the show and our stories. we wish you the most happy holiday season. i'm belva davis. holiday season. i'm belva davis. good night.